President Paul Kagame has said that the pursuit of prosperity in Africa ought to be matched with efforts to mitigate climate change to ensure sustainability.
Kagame was speaking yesterday at the opening ceremony of the Heads of State and Government Summit on the operationalisation of the Congo Basin Climate Commission and the Blue Fund for the Congo Basin in Congo Brazzaville.
The summit aimed at promoting blue economy programmes and projects to help fight poverty among riverside populations and mitigate the effects of climate change.
The President said the much sought prosperity by African countries requires that countries make efforts to mitigate climate change.
“The prosperity we seek for our continent requires that we go the extra step to mitigate climate change and develop our economies more sustainably,” he said.
Kagame, who is also the current Chairman of the African Union, said that in the build up to the implementation of climate conscious pacts such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, global warming continues to severely affect countries across the world.
“While efforts continue to reach universal ratification, and translate the Agreement into action, global warming continues to adversely and disproportionately affect many of our countries,” he said.
He said that the concerns of global warming and climate change are part of the drive to support initiatives such as the Congo Basin Climate Commission and the Blue Fund for the Congo Basin.
“There is no better reason therefore to support and actively participate in the Congo Basin Climate Commission, and the Blue Fund for the Congo Basin” Kagame said.
The Blue Fund, which has an estimated capital of €3bn, aims to develop the economy of the Congo basin through initiatives such as offering alternatives to deforestation, strengthening irrigation of farmland in the savannah and supporting eco-tourism.
The fund was set up on the initiative of King Mohammed VI at the Africa Action Summit, held in Marrakech in November 2016 on the sidelines of the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 22).
By preserving the Congo Basin, the president said that it would have impact not only on the continent but other parts of the world as well.
“Preserving the waters and forests of the Congo Basin, is essential for sustainable development, not only in Africa, but other parts of the world as well. The water resources of the Congo Basin connect our countries and support the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people.
This makes us interdependent on many levels,” the Head of state said.
The Congo basin covers multiple countries including; Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.
Kagame called for cooperation among countries to mitigate climate change and safeguard food security, public health and economic opportunities.
“We must therefore cooperate more in managing these shared resources, in order to safeguard food security, public health and economic opportunities. These are critical factors in achieving both the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063,”
“Given what is at stake, the benefits envisioned in the Congo Basin cooperation initiative far outweigh the costs of setting up the fund. So let’s not waste any more time in this important work to unlock Africa’s full socio-economic potential,” he noted.
The ambitions he added also call for partnership with the private sector.
“Securing this investment will require close collaboration between the public and private sectors, including strong partnerships at the local, national and regional levels,” the president said.
Heads of State thereafter signed the protocol establishing the Congo Basin Climate Commission.